Critical thinking isn’t a term as difficult as it seems.
How many times has it happened with you:
- When you have found it difficult to make a decision?
- When you have made a decision and gave it a thought later?
- When did you think that what you did could have been done otherwise?
The answer to all these questions would be a ‘yes’ for most of us. And honestly, there is nothing to be ashamed of. I believe we all have been there at some point in life.
Hi there, welcome back to my happy place. This week on ‘Self Improvement with Shweta’ we are talking about critical thinking. Like me, I believe you must have found yourself in the situations mentioned above.
What leads to such situations is the lack of critical thinking. Now you may ask what is critical thinking? How is it different from the usual thinking we do?
Well, a person is capable of thinking critically when they can filter the information they have to reach an unbiased and logical decision. Critical thinking leads to a decision that guides better thought and action.
Critical thinking matters the most in the ‘real world’. It is what helps you to stay on track in life and come out of adversities safely. It’s a cruel world out there. And, critical thinking allows one to save themselves from getting manipulated or misused in the ‘real world’.
However, there is no strong rule for one to always abide by it. After all, we are humans, making mistakes, learning endlessly, throughout time. So, no judgments.
As I mentioned, one learns endlessly throughout life. So today, let’s talk about the 2 ways in which you can learn to think critically:
Ask, don’t assume for critical thinking
Has it ever happened that a discussion became so noisy that the original question was lost? I bet, it has. This is what happens when you don’t think critically. This is what happens when you lack information. Hence, ask.
Asking basic questions helps you to avoid complex situations. Here are a few basic questions you can ask while approaching any problem solving:
- What information do you already have?
- How do you have that information?
- What are you trying to do with this information? Are you trying to prove, disprove, demonstrate, critique, etc. anything?
- What information are you missing out on?
- If you are missing out on some information, how can you get that?
We tend to complicate things sometimes. And more often than not, their solution is rather simple than we seek it to be.
Some of the most remarkable solutions are not breathtaking because of their complexity but because of their simplicity. Hence, before you complicate things try and lose the ties to look at the simplicity of the situation.
When you finally have a simpler version of the problem, question your assumptions. Assuming does more harm because we are too afraid to ask. Or, we are too egoistic. But, some of the greatest innovations of history have happened because people kept their assumptions aside and went in to find solutions the simpler way.
How many times have you kept yourself on hold because things were “not right”? All of them could be your reality only if you stop assuming and start questioning yourself. Is it my surroundings or myself who is stopping me? Because, believe me, or not, but we do find very creative ways to get in our own way.
So the next time something seems too difficult, remember to question your assumptions and evaluate your beliefs critically about the positive possibility of the situation.
2. Evaluate the evidence for critical thinking
When we think about the potential outcome of a situation, we tend to become biased. And that is completely normal.
The natural tendency is to have biases in our thinking. Becoming aware that you are being biased is what makes you a critical thinker. A critical thinker is one who is aware of their cognitive biases and personal prejudices. They know how these influence a decision but they don’t allow their bias to neglect the truth. Hence, they make the right decisions.
For example, you are in a relationship that is abusive both physically and emotionally. You know that the person is wrong for you. But, you have been neglecting their wrongdoings in the name of feelings you have for them.
In such a situation, even though it takes time, a critical thinker understands how all of this is sabotaging their self-worth. Hence, they decide to get out of that relationship and move on in life, even though it is hurting them inside.
Problem-solving becomes easy when someone has already done what you are trying to do. It doesn’t make sense to start solving a problem from scratch when you already have the groundwork laid for you.
To save yourself from reaching the wrong conclusion, ask yourself these questions concerning the evidence you come across:
- Who collected this evidence?
- How did they collect them?
- What led them to this evidence?
- Why did they do it?
As you have the evidence before you, you are now capable of deciding for yourself. Bit, while you decide for yourself, do not forget to think for yourself, i.e. it is easy to get lost in other people’s work. Don’t make this mistake. Have a point of view and state it whenever necessary.
As you begin to work on yourself, you have to understand that no one thinks critically all the time. That’s humanly impossible.
Critical thinking is a tool you use when you need to make extremely important decisions for yourself or you have to solve difficult problems. Thus, you don’t have to be critical with yourself in the name of critical thinking.
As I mentioned before, humans are social beings – making mistakes and learning. There’s always room for improvement. And, there’s always more to learn. After all, learning is a lifelong journey.
I’ll see you soon in my next blog on another intriguing topic, till then, stay well and take care.